Intro

A checkbox lets the user set a binary value (such as “true/false”). When the user clicks or taps the checkbox, it toggles between checked and unchecked. Checked means that the state described by the checkbox text applies, or that the item has been chosen.

The checkbox text describes the positive action (as in “true” or “yes”). The text can be either a label control to the left of the checkbox, or a checkbox text that appears to the right of the box.

  • If there is only one checkbox, you can use a label or text depending on the form format.
  • If there is more than one checkbox, the label describes the whole group of checkboxes. In this case, use the text property of the checkbox to describe the individual checkboxes.

Within a group of checkboxes, each checkbox can be checked or unchecked. The user can check multiple options.

A checkbox does not apply a setting right away; the changes take effect after user confirmation via a triggering action button (such as Save).

Enabled/disabled checkboxes
Enabled/disabled checkboxes

Usage

Use the checkbox control if:

  • Only one option can be selected or deselected, for example to accept terms of use. Use it only if the meaning is obvious (single checkbox).
  • You have a group or a list of options that can be selected independently of each other (checkbox group).
  • Your use case requires all available options to be displayed right away without any user interaction (also in read-only cases).
  • The values of the option list are primary information and need to be displayed right away.
  • Changes to the settings need to be confirmed and reviewed by the user before they are submitted. This helps prevent users from changing settings accidentally.
  • You want to group multiple suboptions under a parent option, and require an intermediate selection state (tri-state). The tri-state indicates that some (but not all) suboptions are selected.
  • The states of a switch control might be confusing for the user. For example, it’s not clear if the switch is showing a state or an action.

Do not use the checkbox control if:

  • The user needs to choose multiple options from a large list. Use a multi-combo box instead.
  • The user can choose only one option from a list. For a small list, use a radio button group instead. For a large list, use the select control or a list with multi-selection functionality.
  • You want to offer two options for a “yes/no” or “on/off” type of decision. Consider using a switch control instead.
  • The user needs to perform instantaneous actions that do not need reviewing or confirming. Consider using the switch control instead.
  • There is not enough space available on the screen. Use the combo box control instead.

Responsiveness and Adaptiveness

A checkbox can appear in two different sizes. In cozy mode, it is bigger than it is in compact mode. This makes the checkbox easier to select on touch devices. For more information on cozy and compact modes, see the article on content density.

Cozy/compact mode
Cozy/compact mode

In both sizes, the touch/click area around the checkbox is bigger than the checkbox itself, making the checkbox easier to select. Clicking or tapping inside this area toggles the checkbox.

Note: Because the touch/click area does not include the label on the left, clicking or tapping on the label will not toggle the checkbox.

Checkbox click area in compact mode
Checkbox click area in compact mode
Checkbox touch/click area in cozy mode with label
Checkbox touch/click area in cozy mode with label

Layout

The checkbox control consists of a box and a text that describes the purpose of the checkbox.

If the checkbox is checked, an indicator is shown inside the box.

Although the clickable area to select/deselect a checkbox covers a wider area than the box (see the Responsiveness section), the focus is indicated by a dotted line that surrounds only the box.

If the checkbox appears alone inside a form, the text can be omitted if the label in front of the checkbox takes over its function.

Note: Because the touch/click area does not include the label on the left, clicking or tapping the label does not toggle the checkbox.

If there are several options to choose from in a form, the label describes the entire checkbox group, and the texts describe the individual checkboxes.

Since checkbox texts are also a type of label, use title case to be consistent with other labels. If the label is long, it can wrap in order to fit the text into the visible area of the content holder. There is no limit on the number of lines a text can wrap.

Exception: If one or several of the checkbox texts is very long, or is formulated as a phrase, use sentence case and appropriate ending punctuation.

For forms with labels above the fields, place the label above the checkbox group, or do not use a label. For a single checkbox, use only a checkbox text.

For forms with labels to the left of the field, place the label next to the group, aligned with the first checkbox field, or do not use a label. For a single checkbox, use only a label, or only a checkbox text.

Developer Hint
Do not use empty labels to arrange the checkboxes. Creating a label in front of each checkbox and leaving the text empty looks fine – nobody sees the label, and the checkboxes are aligned correctly underneath each other. However, the screen reader will notice these labels and read each of them as “label”. Instead, use the layout data property (layoutData) for the checkbox. In this property, force a line break (linebreak) and set the value of the indents in sizes L and M (indentL, indentM) according to the value of the label span in the simple form (labelSpanL, labelSpanM).
Checkbox layout
Checkbox layout
Short checkbox text in title case; Long checkbox text in sentence case
Short checkbox text in title case; Long checkbox text in sentence case
Checkbox text wrap
Checkbox text wrap
Checkbox group with label on top or to the left
Checkbox group with label on top or to the left
Checkbox group without label
Checkbox group without label
Single checkbox with label or with text
Single checkbox with label or with text

Behavior and Interaction

Clicking or tapping a checkbox toggles the state of the checkbox between checked and unchecked.

Tri-State

The main purpose of this state is to represent the mixed selection states of dependent input fields. If some (but not all) of the dependent fields are selected, the checkbox shows a partially selected state. This is only a visual state and can’t be achieved by a direct user interaction.

Checkbox interaction states
Checkbox interaction states

Properties

You can set the width of the element containing the checkbox and the text manually (property: width).

If the text exceeds the available width, it can wrap. The touchable area for toggling the checkbox ends where the text ends.

If the width allows more space than the text requires, white space is added. The touchable area for toggling the checkbox is increased according to the manually-set width.

The text can be positioned manually in this space (property: textAlign). However, we do not recommend using the right-align option, which can result in a large amount of white space between the checkbox and the checkbox text.

If a checkbox is part of an editable form, it can be edited in when the form is in edit mode. In display mode, the checkbox uses its “display only” state (property: displayOnly).

If the checkbox appears in a read-only form, set the checkbox to read-only (property editable = “false”).

Do not combine the settings “disabled” and “read-only”. This is technically possible, but does not make any sense.

The checkbox can represent a mixed selection state, or tri-state (property: partiallySelected). The visual state depends on the value of the selected property.

Don't
Checkbox text - Incorrect positioning
Checkbox text - Incorrect positioning
Checkbox interaction states
Checkbox interaction states

Resources

Want to dive deeper? Follow the links below to find out more about related controls, the SAPUI5 implementation, and the visual design.

Elements and Controls

Implementation